Paying attention to smartphone CMOS sensors has been one of the things we've been doing for a while now in our smartphone reviews, and today OmniVision announced details about their upcoming 16 MP CMOS sensors. The announcement details two upcoming 16 MP CMOSes, the OV16820 and OV16825, which differ only in their packaging (Ceramic LGA for for OV16820 and raw die form for OV16825). Both are are 16 MP with an active area of 4608 x 3456, with 1.34µm square pixels built on OmniVision's OmniBSI-2 pixel structure.

This is slightly smaller than the 1.4µm we've seen in other OV and Samsung sensors, but still much larger than upcoming 1.1 or 1.2 µm based designs. The result is that OV's 16 MP sensor should deliver similar sensitivity as current 1.4µm based sensors - there should be a minimal increase in noise over other BSI-2 based OmniVision sensors. The tradeoff is that the OV1682x is a bit bigger than the smartphone sensors out right now, at 1/2.3", which will necessitate new optical designs or a system with longer throw (thickness).

Probably one of the other headlining features is inclusion of 60 FPS video capture at 4K2K (3840 x 2160) and QFHD (3840 x 2160 - Quad Full HD) or full frame output at 30 FPS. The usual caveats still apply though - you still need an ISP and video encoder capable of handling the 8 lanes of MIPI output and all that data. We've already seen some smartphones moving to very high resolution CMOS sensors, like the HTC TItan II's 16 MP camera or the Nokia PureVision 808 at 41 MP. The OV1682x family is targeted both at high end smartphones and digital video / still cameras, and will enter production in the fourth quarter of 2012. Samsung also has a similarly specced 16 MP 1/2.3" 1.34 µm sensor in the S5K2P1 which is currently in production.

Source: OmniVision (Spec Page), OmniVision (Press Release)

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  • dagamer34 - Wednesday, May 23, 2012 - link

    And here I thought they'd stop at 8MP. This spec race is getting pretty silly. 16MP from a smartphone is asking too much. Hopefully phone OEMs will take this sensor and oversample to get an 8MP photo of good quality that's worth using while still keeping the 4K functionality (though even that is questionable).
  • Paulman - Wednesday, May 23, 2012 - link

    Yes, can someone PLEASE explain to me why the megapixel race continues? I find it hard to believe that it's purely because higher megapixels are easier to market to consumers. Digital cameras have been around long enough that I think it wouldn't be too hard to convince people that they do not need 3MB+ sized pictures at 6 times their screen resolution, but that camera sensors can be higher quality without being the highest res.

    So, I'm thinking there must be more to this issue. What are the drawbacks of going for larger pixel areas and lower megapixel count? Are there other issues, like some other source of noise that's dependent on pixel area or is leakage current worse or (fill in your answer here)?
  • nathanddrews - Wednesday, May 23, 2012 - link

    <sarcasm>Yeah, I know! I hate it when technology improves!</sarcasm>

    4K is going to be the new 1080p over the next several years. TVs, projectors, computer displays, tablets even, etc. Personally I'm really excited for it - I'm already saving up for a 4K projector to replace my 1080p projector.

    At the professional level, many new films are shot in 4K+ digital (RED, Sony, JVC, etc.) while all the rest are being transfered from 16/35/65/70mm film to 4K-8K. The world is moving toward 4K whether you're ready or not.

    I'll be ready. :)
  • mars2k - Wednesday, May 23, 2012 - link

    Yes and all the supporting technologies advance as well. Video processors and scalers, HDMI, screen technologies and there are new disk formats on the horizon. A replacement for Blu-ray is in the works. Lots of great gear coming.
  • nathanddrews - Wednesday, May 23, 2012 - link

    My only regret is having to re-buy all the movies again. Hopefully there will be some exchange programs similar to Red2Blu or DVD2Blu. Blu24K? I hope so, otherwise I'm going to be so poor.
  • michael2k - Wednesday, May 23, 2012 - link

    How big a TV will you have that you can appreciate 4K video?

    Either you need to be 6' away from an 10' screen to barely justify 4k; that, or you need to be using it for a 3D movie since resolution is cut in half, vertically, for 3D.

    However, you still need to be 6' away from a 8' screen in 3D.
  • nathanddrews - Wednesday, May 23, 2012 - link

    Cnet? You couldn't have picked a less reputable website for home theater science. It's not about seeing pixels, pixel size, or seating charts based upon average consumer perceptions of resolution. It has everything to do with resolving fine detail, motion resolution, color reproduction: in other words getting as close to the source as possible.

    I hate to sound elitist, but just because 99% of consumers won't realize the benefits before them doesn't make it useless or pointless.

    It just so happens I'm projecting 120" with seating at 9', 13', and 17'.
  • michael2k - Wednesday, May 23, 2012 - link

    Reputation doesn't change the math, nor the fact that your setup would see a benefit with 4k.
  • nathanddrews - Thursday, May 24, 2012 - link

    Again, that's what Cnet doesn't understand - the seating chart math IS irrelevant. There is a tremendous benefit in going from 1080p 8-bit 4:2:0 to 4K 12-bit 4:4:4 or even 4:2:2. Ditch the Rec 709 color space in favor of DCI and I'll probably wet myself. Visual transparency to the source is the goal here, not preset seating charts.

    I've seen a 4K panel in direct comparison to 1080p. You can't see the pixels in either display standing even 6 feet away, but that doesn't matter - you CAN see the difference and it is remarkable - breathtaking, even.

    Toss in the other advances the new 4K format will bring (better 3-D and 48/60/120fps filming like Peter Jackson and James Cameron are doing) and it's simply no contest.
  • michael2k - Friday, May 25, 2012 - link

    Considering I can't see the pixels on my 720p 32" HDTV, I hardly concede that 4k is no contest (unless I'm upgrading to a 120" screen).

    My best guess is I'm going to 1080p when I upgrade to a 60" screen in 5 years.

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